(Le texte en français suit le texte anglais)
Many of you know my mother as the mother of Robin, Marisa, Emily, Nick or me, others knew her simply as Dorinda, the Director of TDH, but behind-the-scenes, my mother was so much more. To describe my mother in 4 words, although the list is endless, she was compassionate, resilient, caring & loving.
When I first thought of compassion, I actually wasn’t sure if I was using the word right. It was a word that I would hear and use, but not really know what it meant. So I looked it up to make sure that it was appropriate for this context. And in all the definitions I read, they all gathered around the idea that compassion is “a sympathetic response to the suffering of others, that motivates a desire to help, and alleviate that suffering.” What stayed with me the most was the part about alleviating the suffering because that what my mother dedicated her whole life doing. She alleviated the pain of a child without a family and a family without a child.
I’d actually like to tell you a short story, not many of you know about my mom. It is actually the moment when my dad first met my mom. He was on his way home from the university in Washington, in the middle of the night, when he spotted my mom, walking back down an extremely dark alley. It was known to be a lower class neighborhood, and there my mom was; this white, skinny, brown haired youthful woman, walking back in this dark alley with books in her hand. My dad said to her “What the heck are you doing here at this hour of the night?” It turned out my mom had simply finished her usual tutoring that she did for this little 12-year-old black girl, at night. Even as a young adult, before TDH, before her family, my mom had a compassionate heart.
But with her compassionate heart, came a certain resilience like no other. In the adoption world, she learnt earlier on the importance of resilience, what it meant to not bend and break to the uncertainties and difficulties of adoption. In the last few years, as many of you know, my mom began working more with special needs children, particularly in Vietnam. Outcasts of society as orphans as it is, these poor children with special needs carried with them yet another burden, that of their disability. In working and in learning from these children, Mom developed a motto and a slogan that I feel is worth sharing with you all. She said: “everyone hopes for a ‘perfect’ child, but is the child with HIV, deformities, or limited mobility any less perfect?”
As adoption began to push more for children with special needs, my mom worked all that more harder at finding loving homes for these poor children. There were a lot of trials and obstacles she faced, that not many people saw. Sometimes it was rejections upon rejections from parents or problems with the documents before a child could finally be with the right parents. My mother never gave up. She was resilient in the fight, and made sure with all her might that a family who would fall in love with the child’s imperfections, big or small. If that meant, taking the “back roads”, traveling the distance across oceans and countries, making those phone calls, and working all the way into the long hours of the night (possibly until 3-4 in the morning,) she would do it.
As a family, we would tell her to shut it off and come to bed, but my mom knew what needed to be done, and the stubborn woman she was, allowed her to produce the miracles she did, as a result. Her resilience is one of her characteristics I admire most. It’s all one of the characteristics that have allowed more than 2000 children to go from orphan to a loved child. No one fought the way Mom did. I don’t even think many would have gone all those extra miles the way she did, especially with such an open and benevolent heart. But that made Dorinda, Dorinda. That was our mother every single day of the year. She was resilient and would not rest until she did everything in her power to make every adoptive child and parents’ dream come true.
Love & Care
The strength she had that allowed her to do all this work, day in and day out was in big part because of her love for God and the love she had for everyone around her. I think many of us could agree that my mother was more of a doer than a talker. So, although she did not always express her love verbally, it was through her actions and her way of caring for others that spoke for her. You know the saying “actions speak louder than words”? This is a perfect quote to describe my mom’s ways of expression. And whether you felt her love, directly or indirectly, through her personally or through her children, her family and her friends; it was and is always present.
My mom loved each and every person that came into her life, child, teen, or adult. She even took some of the children from Vietnam into her own home for a while, and no matter their length of stay, she was always a mother figure to them. She treated them no different than her own, nurturing them with the same love and care she had her 5 children.
Without a doubt, my mother was one of kind, a Mother Theresa type as many have pointed out to me. Her humility and kindness, and her humanitarian need and desire to dedicate her life in advocating an child’s right to life is the reason why we are all gathered here today. I think I can say that anyone can match a child to a paper criterion that is filled out at the beginning of an adoption. But no one could match a child to a family, so perfectly the way my mother did. It was a gift we would always say, a gift she had with her throughout her 40 plus years in adoption.
Many of you have received the famous call from my mom saying “Mr. and Mrs., I have a child for you. ” As an adoptee myself, it was always music to my ears and rays of sun to my heart to hear replies like “you couldn’t have found a more perfect child for me.” I honestly couldn’t be more proud to be adopted, and to be adopted by someone as wonderful as my mother is a true gift from God. To quote my mom one last time: “Every parent dreams of seeing their child’s first smile, first step, hearing their first word. But thousands of children wait for the hand that will guide them through the pains of growing up, the heart that will listen as they tell of their fears and loneliness.” Because of my mom, I am here 20 years later, writing this eulogy. Because of my mom, thousands of children get to live out a life that would not have been possible without her.
The next few years will be some of the most challenging times, I know not only for my family and I, but for others as well. Her imprint has left an important mark on all of us, her legacy is one that is remarkable and unique to her alone, but her mission is very clear and simple. “Be there for others, be there for each other, help those who are less fortunate, and do it with open arms and an open heart.” So, as we go begin to pick up the broken pieces and start living out our lives again, let us always keep Dorinda Ann Carosella close to our hearts and her message to our soul. To quote for the last time one of my favorite childhood authors, Dr. Seuss, in regards to my mother’s life “Do not cry because it’s over, but smile because it happened.”